Table of Contents

Models & Libraries

Contents

Models

Models are the heart of your application. Your application logic (controllers / routes) and views (html) are just the mediums with which users interact with your models. The most typical type of logic contained within a model is Business Logic.

Some examples of functionality that would exist within a model are:

  • Database Interactions
  • File I/O
  • Interactions with Web Services

For instance, perhaps you are writing a blog. You will likely want to have a "Post" model. Users may want to comment on posts so you'd also have a "Comment" model. If users are going to be commenting then we'll also need a "User" model. Get the idea?

Libraries

Libraries are classes that perform tasks that aren't specific to your application. For instance, consider a PDF generation library that converts HTML. That task, although complicated, is not specific to your application, so it is considered a "library".

Creating a library is as easy as creating a class and storing it in the libraries folder. In the following example, we will create a simple library with a method that echos the text that is passed to it. We create the printer.php file in the libraries folder with the following code.

<?php

class Printer {

    public static function write($text) {
        echo $text;
    }
}

You can now call Printer::write('this text is being echod from the write method!') from anywhere within your application.

Auto Loading

Libraries and Models are very easy to use thanks to the Laravel auto-loader. To learn more about the auto-loader check out the documentation on Auto-Loading.

Best Practices

We've all head the mantra: "controllers should be thin!" But, how do we apply that in real life? It's possible that part of the problem is the word "model". What does it even mean? Is it even a useful term? Many associate "model" with "database", which leads to having very bloated controllers, with light models that access the database. Let's explore some alternatives.

What if we just totally scrapped the "models" directory? Let's name it something more useful. In fact, let's just give it the same as our application. Perhaps are our satellite tracking site is named "Trackler", so let's create a "trackler" directory within the application folder.

Great! Next, let's break our classes into "entities", "services", and "repositories". So, we'll create each of those three directories within our "trackler" folder. Let's explore each one:

Entities

Think of entities as the data containers of your application. They primarily just contain properties. So, in our application, we may have a "Location" entity which has "latitude" and "longitude" properties. It could look something like this:

<?php namespace Trackler\Entities;

class Location {

    public $latitude;
    public $longitude;

    public function __construct($latitude, $longitude)
    {
        $this->latitude = $latitude;
        $this->longitude = $longitude;
    }

}

Looking good. Now that we have an entity, let's explore our other two folders.

Services

Services contain the processes of your application. So, let's keep using our Trackler example. Our application might have a form on which a user may enter their GPS location. However, we need to validate that the coordinates are correctly formatted. We need to validate the location entity. So, within our "services" directory, we could create a "validators" folder with the following class:

<?php namespace Trackler\Services\Validators;

use Trackler\Entities\Location;

class Location_Validator {

    public static function validate(Location $location)
    {
        // Validate the location instance…
    }

}

Great! Now we have a great way to test our validation in isolation from our controllers and routes! So, we've validated the location and we're ready to store it. What do we do now?

Repositories

Repositories are the data access layer of your application. They are responsible for storing and retrieving the entities of your application. So, let's continue using our location entity in this example. We need a location repository that can store them. We could store them using any mechanism we want, whether that is a relational database, Redis, or the next storage hotness. Let's look at an example:

<?php namespace Trackler\Repositories;

use Trackler\Entities\Location;

class Location_Repository {

    public function save(Location $location, $user_id)
    {
        // Store the location for the given user ID…
    }

}

Now we have a clean separation of concerns between our application's entities, services, and repositories. This means we can inject stub repositories into our services or controllers, and test those pieces of our application in isolation from the database. Also, we can entirely switch data store technologies without affecting our services, entities, or controllers. We've achieved a good separation of concerns.

Further Reading: